I'm having trouble as to what you call two words that contradict each other. For example, "That was weirdly normal." I think this kind of word play is used in puns and jokes. But I do not know how you call this king of word play. Also, I think this can go beyond just using two words, like two phrases in a sentence or two clauses in a sentence that contradict each other.

My questions are: How do you call this kind of weird play? Is this type of word play used in Jokes(Well, I think it is but I'm asking you guys)? Lastly, can you give me examples of this kind of word play?

  • 'Irony' or 'paradox' are two words that spring to mind. Irony comes in a variety of forms, but all of them involve apparent contradiction in some way. For example, I might say 'I feel too unwell for work today, and the irony is that, for once, I was actually looking forward to going'.Or it could mean the use of language which is actually stating the opposite of what you mean. e.g I might say to someone who is perpetually late, 'I note that you were your usual prompt self this morning, George'. This latter is also called sarcasm, but it is a form of irony.
    – user52780
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 20:48
  • john Wilson Paradox means two things which one would suppose were contradictory, but for some strange reason are not in this instance. e.g. It seemed highly paradoxical that such an intelligent person could not add two simple numbers together.
    – user52780
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


'Oxymoron' is probably the word you want.

a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings


  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxymoron
    – iterums
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 20:51
  • 1
    Thanks Barrie England that's the word I was looking for, and thanks iterums for the wiki link; it has good examples. Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 20:56
  • 1
    See also: Army Intelligence
    – user53089
    Commented Oct 1, 2013 at 1:45
  • I think there might be a more specific rhetorical term for using an oxymoron in this way, but I couldn't find it. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 23:13
  • The usual definition of paradox / oxymoron is an apparent contradiction, licensed when analysed more carefully. The term oxymoron is reserved for a succinct version. A true contradiction in terms is just a 'contradiction in terms'. Commented May 13, 2016 at 8:15

A paradox is when two opposites-- contradictions--are in a sentence, but are not side by side. They are statements that may be true, but are self-contradictory and unusual to happen at the same time e.g.You can "save" money by "spending" it.

An oxymoron is just like a paradox; however, the two opposites are side by side e.g. This is a "love-hate" relationship.

So, since your two opposites are side by side, "oxymoron" is correct, as mentioned before.

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